Pima Co. Health Department: Student use of vapes a long-standing problem

Pima Co. Health Department: Student use of vapes a long-standing problem
Source: Tucson News Now

MARANA, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Donovan Bourg walks to the bathroom at Marana High School every day expecting the same thing, to see his classmates vaping. He says that's not unusual bathroom activity at the school.

"They always have their certain little areas that they go into and they leave everybody else alone," Bourg said.

In his nearly four years at Marana High, Bourg says he thinks student usage of e-cigarettes on campus has gone down. But he says he knows it's a still a problem in general.

"I always do hear kids talk about 'nic-ing up' to different level of nicotine," he said.

In Pima County, the health department reports that 16 percent of students use an e-cigarette. They explain that e-cigarette use has been a problem for years. As schools crack down on student use of e-cigarettes on campus, the health department says that one thing is clear.

"Right now e-cigarettes is the big trend," Pima County Health Department's Greg Rivera said.

Rivera is the head of tobacco and chronic disease prevention for the health department. He thinks the spike in e-cigarette use is due to the misconception that they're safe or better for you. In his experience they generally have the opposite effect on kids that use them.

"Youth are using e-cigarettes as an initial gateway into tobacco use and from e-cigarettes they're going into traditional tobacco," he said.

Rivera says that not only can e-cigarettes lead kids into using harder drugs, they can also alter their brains and make them more prone to have addiction problems. It's the goal of the Pima County Health Department to educate kids on the dangers of e-cigarettes and to provide them with outside avenues, like the American Lung Association and the Arizona Smokers Helpline, to help them stop using e-cigarettes.

For Bourg on the other hand, the future looks bright as he plans to join the Air Force this summer with no use of an e-cigarette in sight.

"I don't need to. 'Cause they have nicotine content in them. I don't need nicotine so there's no need for me to do it."

WANT MORE? Download the Tucson News Now app for Apple and Android devices.

Copyright 2018 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.